Conflict of interests
Mr Smith was a retired minister. He had taught at a private school, and had been dismissed. He was now a dishwasher and a part time gardener in an oldfolks home. Every Sunday he went up to Westminster cathedral to listen to the choirboys sing. He liked their high tennor voices.
The other passion in his life was potatoes. He liked saying Maris Piper, Record, and King Edward. He knew all about wireworm and blight, and he kept a keen eye on the potato shaws, and admired the sheen and health of the leaves. He regarded potatoes and choirboys with the same rapt gaze.
Mrs Young was the same age as Mr Smith and she loved flowers. She was frail and couldn't do any heavy digging and she would always ask me to prepare a flower bed for her. She liked to surround herself with cut flowers. She liked the scent. She liked the colour. In the big house the splashes of colour in the corridors, and the fragrances over the fireplace, were evidence that Mrs Young had been about her work. Sweet peas, Wallflower, and the climbing rose Zephirine Drouhin were her favourites. She always said the scent from that rose was better than a meal.
Mr Smith also required my services to double dig his trenches for his early potatoes. There was a constant pull between potatoes and flowers, between male and female, between function and frivolity, between formality and abandonment. One day Mr Smith took me aside and said he was going to let me into a great secret and he drew me close and whispered in my ear "You can't eat flowers in the winter". Mrs Young who had been observing this took her secateurs and cut me a perfect single rose and presented it to me with a smile.
Everything has a time and a place.